Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Saudi Drafts Law to Allow Women to Vote for First Time

The rights of women in Islam have been a topic of great debate, especially mainly in the western media. The problem here is, the western media tends to highlight only those instances or occurrences which suit their theory and base their theory upon those random occurrences. Even though some may be quick to blame Islam as an oppressive religion for women, Muslims all around the world are working hard towards refreshing and reviving the image of Islam which may or may not have been tarnished due to extremist activities in some parts of the Muslim world.

Saudi Arabia is considered the homeland of Islam, as this is the place from where the Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) brought the message of Islam, and today the Muslim world we see can trace its roots back to Saudi Arabia. The issue of women’s right to vote is often debated, again in the western media who like to highlight this point, even though it is a cultural/ tribal custom, which is fading over time, rather than a religious teaching. Saudi Arabia being the homeland of Islam has recently drawn up the required legislation which will allow women to vote in the council elections for the very first time. The legislation which has been drawn up will not only allow women to vote in the elections but will also allow them to stand in the election as candidates in the upcoming municipal elections which will be held this December.

The Kingdom had announced these new groundbreaking reforms in the constitution just last year and the required legislation has now finally been drawn up which will allow these changes to take place. The article 66 of the new law states that any Saudi Citizen who has a valid identity card can participate in the upcoming municipal elections either as a candidate or as a voter.

The voters must be at least 18 years of age or older on the day of the elections which will be held on the 12th of December. They must also be the holders of high school certificates and most importantly they must be registered to vote. Under the new law, the local committees will be responsible for preparing the electoral centers for the women who have registered to vote. The women will also help in the organization of the elections, the appointing of the electoral committees and also the keeping a eye on the process for the female voter.

Men and woman both aged 25 or above, and those who are without a criminal record may contest the elections from the areas where their votes have been registered. However those who have been recently (within the last 3 years) dismissed from public service for any disciplinary reason cannot contest in the elections. This new move initiated by the Late King Abdullah has been aimed at meeting the needs, dreams and inspirations of the women of Saudi Arabia, who had not been allowed to vote till 2014.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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